Overseas Pakistanis can take home one phone

Free of duty in one year. All mobile phones brought into the country illegally after December 31 will be blocked.

A large number of overseas Pakistanis living in the UAE and abroad carry more than one mobile phone when they go back home free of customs duties. This will not be the case anymore.

Hammad Azhar, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, on Saturday said overseas Pakistanis can take only one phone in a year without paying customs duty and a maximum of five can be brought in as per personal baggage rules. But they will have to pay duty on the four extra handsets.

“For people bringing in phones from abroad, as per personal baggage rules, one phone per annum is allowed duty-free and up to a maximum of five phones in a year can be brought in. The duty on remaining four will have to be paid if you require service in Pakistan beyond 30 days,” Azhar tweeted.

Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Friday said that all those mobile phones brought into the country illegally after December 31 will be blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

He said this decision was taken to curb mobile phone smuggling, which is damaging the national economy. In 2017-18, Pakistan imported $847.66 million (Dh3.11 billion) worth of mobile phones. In the previous financial year, Pakistan had imported over $1 billion worth of phones as there was no duty on imports from China due to a free trade agreement and a very small little duty on imports from other countries.

Azhar said that if people are purchasing a new phone or carry any phone that they wish to install a SIM in and activate after December 1, 2018, they must send its IMEI number to 8484 to know about its legal status. The IMEI number can be found in the mobile’s box or by dialling *#06#.

Azhar said the cabinet has also approved the relaxation in policies regarding commercial import of new and used mobile phones.

“Ban on commercial import of used phones is also lifted if the said phone models conform to PTA regulations and duties and taxes are paid on them,” he added.

He, however, warned that mobile phones sold after December 1, 2018 that are not custom duty paid (i.e., smuggled) will be deactivated by the PTA after 30 days. Phones currently in use or activated before December 1 will not be affected or require registration.

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